“Study strategy over the years and achieve the spirit of the warrior. Today is victory over yourself of yesterday; tomorrow is your victory over lesser men.” – Miyamoto Musashi
Samurai Sasaki Kojiro was growing increasingly impatient as he waited on the beach at Funa Island in Kokura. An undefeated master swordsman, he was tense and his anger was getting the better of him. He was on the small island for a duel, a clash of steel between two swordsmen where a man’s life could end in seconds. The duel was the ultimate test of the swordsman, and Sasaki, one of the best in Japan, was known as “The Demon of the Western Provinces.” However, the Sasaki on the beach did not resemble the fierce warrior of his reputation as he paced back and forth, frustrated by the tardiness of his opponent: the enigmatic Miyamoto Musashi.
Sasaki knew nothing about Musashi except that the mysterious swordsman was undefeated, because aside from that, little was known about Musashi’s style or lineage. Although Musashi did have a reputation for keeping a rather unkempt appearance and an unpredictable personality, the mysterious swordsman also was the subject of conflicting stories about his courage and prowess. Though he was understandably confident, Sasaki did not underestimate his opponent, who finally arrived to the island on a small boat. Sasaki noticed something shocking: Musashi did not bring a sword. Instead Musashi, who appeared as if he had just rolled out of bed, brought a wooden oar carved into a makeshift sword as his dueling weapon. Sasaki was furious, and though he was beyond insulted, he drew his sword and prepared to fight to the death. The duel between the two masters thus began with one of them having no sword at all.